The Law and Medical Practice in Québec

The World of Law

Under review

Law establishes the rules that facilitate life in society. In our pluralist societies the law is particularly important, since laws are the rules that all members of society, despite their differences, must observe. Determining who has the legitimacy necessary to enact these rules has not been an easy task. The advent of democracy, where every citizen has the right to choose by free vote and elect those who will hold legislative and executive power for a given period is a relatively recent phenomenon.  In a democracy, the  laws represent the social choices that all citizens must respect since they have  participated in their making.

In Canada, the laws include constitutional laws and all other laws adopted by parliaments in accordance with constitutional laws. The regulations also have the force of law, as their purpose is to apply the legislative measures.

A law enacted by a legislator can sometimes be interpreted in different ways. Also, the power to interpret laws in litigation cases has been entrusted to persons designated to do so. Courts—independent of the executive powers—hear the proposed interpretations of opposing persons or their lawyers and then render a decision. The parties concerned also have recourse and may then appeal the judge’s decision. The appeal ensures that the trial judge has properly applied the rule of law.

In exercising its functions, the court must take into account previous decisions and devote particular attention to the judgments that make up the “jurisprudence”. The jurisprudence is all of the judgments rendered by the courts on a given subject. Eminent jurists sometimes summarize the decisions rendered on a given subject, discuss the state of law and express an informed opinion on its evolution. Their numerous essays and research works constitute what is known as “doctrine”.

Thus, the three principal sources of law are the laws and regulations, jurisprudence, and doctrine.